Despite Zika’s sting beginning to be felt in the South Florida economy and troubles continuing in Latin America, Miami-Dade County’s economy powered through August.
Miami-Dade’s unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent in August, down from 5.2 percent in July, and 6 percent in August 2015, according to monthly state figures released Friday. The jobless rate also dropped in Broward County and held steady statewide.
5.1% Miami-Dade’s unemployment rate in August
The underlying numbers show positive trends at work: The number of people looking for employment is growing, meaning job-seekers are feeling good about the economy.
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The number of people in Miami-Dade working rose by nearly 3,000 in August, following an increase in July, which reversed a trend. It had fallen every month since February, a sign that some workers were giving up on finding a job in 2016. Over the course of a year, the county’s economy added 11,700 new non-agriculatural payroll jobs, up 1 percent; 4,600 of them were in construction, up 11.2 percent, according to the monthly report released by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
“Miami-Dade has lost a little bit of steam over last year but the momentum is good,” said Mekael Teshome, economist and an assistant vice president with The PNC Financial Services Group. Miami-Dade’s economy is particularly impacted by a weak global economy, especially in Latin America, and a strong dollar.
In the South Florida region, job growth was also led by construction, as well as finance and the industry category that includes lawyers, architects, accountants and other skilled office workers. Retail and hospitality had slower months, but employment numbers still edged up year over year.
Worth watching is Zika’s potential sting on the region, Teshome said. Already, businesses, particularly in the restaurant and tourism industries, have felt some impact, according to a report in the Miami Herald last week.
“Public concern is heightened. People are thinking twice about [visiting] but there have not been mass cancellations. If public officials can show they have a handle on it in the next few weeks, I think we will see limited impact,” Teshome said Friday. But if the Zika fight is prolonged into the peak winter season, the economic fallout could reach into 2017, he added. “The next few reports will be watched closely. ”
In Broward County, the unemployment rate nudged down to 4.6 percent in August from 4.7 percent in July. Unlike Miami-Dade, Broward’s numbers are not adjusted to account for seasonal changes in the workforce. Year over year, the unemployment rate in Broward fell from 5.2 percent in August 2015. Broward added 34,800 jobs, up 4.4 percent, year over year.
4.6% Broward’s unemployment rate in August
Florida’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for August was unchanged from July at 4.7 percent, and down from 5.2 percent a year ago.
The U.S. unemployment rate also was unchanged at 4.9 percent, down from 5.1 percent a year ago.
The metro areas in the state that gained the most jobs year over year were Orlando (51,600 jobs, up 4.4 percent), Tampa (38,200 jobs, up 3.1 percent) and Fort Lauderdale. Florida’s seasonally adjusted total non-agricultural employment was 8,392,400 in August 2016, an increase of 24,500 jobs (up 0.3 percent) over the month. The state gained 259,800 jobs over the year, an increase of 3.2 percent.
“Overall, it was a positive report for the state. Florida’s economy is at cruising speed, continuing a string of good reports we have had,” Teshome said.
Nationally, the number of jobs rose 1.7 percent over the year. Florida’s year-over-year job growth rate has exceeded the nation’s rate since May 2012.
Nicholas Nehamas contributed to this report.